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Democrats applaud judicial overreach, again

| Monday, February 13, 2017

The Ninth Circuit, the appeals court for the western United States, refused to lift the temporary restraining order placed on the executive branch earlier this month, effectively preventing the government from implementing President Trump’s recent immigration order.

The decision came down late Thursday from the Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel, generally recognized as the most liberal of all 13 federal appellate courts. It signifies what is perhaps the first political victory for Democrats since November, despite the limited scope and temporary nature of the ruling.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was quick to respond, demanding President Trump abandon the order entirely and “come up with a real, bipartisan plan to keep us safe.” The Minority Leader is likely to capitalize on this small victory, having tried unsuccessfully to obstruct Trump’s cabinet appointees for the last several weeks.

Sen. Schumer, and others, have been very vocal in their opposition to the executive order, which suspended immigration from seven countries closely linked to Islamic terrorism for a period of 90 days. According to the Trump administration, the measure was put in place so that the relevant federal departments could implement revised immigration criteria consistent with existing screening standards.

As a first-generation immigrant, my family and I were also required to conform to those same standards before being admitted into the U.S. — as is every foreign national who wishes to visit, work or live in this country. The process includes interviewing the Visa applicant, assessing his or her credibility and working with foreign governments to determine whether or not the applicant represents a threat to the national security of the American public. Each year, over 1 million people successfully complete this process and legally relocate to the U.S., making it the world’s most popular destination for immigrants.

Unlike the vast majority of nations, including most of those with predominantly Muslim populations, the seven nations affected by the President’s executive order lack the infrastructure and regional stability necessary to accurately screen immigrant applicants. Without background checks, government records or substantive intelligence, it is difficult — though not entirely impossible — to discern between lawful immigrants and malicious terrorists. Because of the lack of reliable data, these applicants require further intensive scrutiny before they can be admitted into the U.S., what President Trump refers to as “extreme vetting.”

The Obama administration was the first to recognize this in 2013, when it identified these seven countries — Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — as nations of concern: Those most susceptible to terrorist infiltrations of immigrant applicant pools. In fact, President Trump’s executive order only refers directly to Syria — the other six nations are listed under the ‘Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act’ of 2015.

Similarly, FBI Director James Comey — appointed by former President Obama — testified before Congress that the Agency could not ensure ISIS agents had not infiltrated Syrian refugee camps. Democrats are either fundamentally unwilling to accept this reality or, more likely, they still believe that the humanitarian cause itself is more important than the national security implications. After all, what difference does a few bad apples make if the U.S. can come to the aid of thousands of innocent refugees?

Well, if the terror attacks of 9/11, San Bernardino, Orlando, Boston, Brussels, Paris, Nice and so many others have shown us anything, it is that we should never underestimate the unimaginable devastation that can result from a small number of people driven by hatred. Of course, the U.S. must continue to provide relief to all those suffering from oppression and persecution, if it is to remain the greatest beacon of hope and freedom on Earth. However, without an appropriate means of protection from those who would seek to destroy it, America cannot survive as the ‘shining city upon a hill.’

National security and public safety are not just factors to be considered in the administration of some larger policy agenda: They are the preeminent functions of government. The safety and security of the American people — including native and naturalized citizens, visa holders and permanent residents — should be the driving force behind all foreign policy objectives and decisions.

If we set aside the cloud of hysteria and misinformation that surrounds the President’s agenda for a moment, perhaps Sen. Schumer and the American left can begin to accept the merits of his proposal and understand how he won the election in the first place.

Most Americans understand the need for border security and a reasonable system of immigration that can distinguish between aspiring Americans and would-be terrorists. These are not, as Chuck Schumer and the liberal media would have you believe, radical-right wing ideas. If Democrats continue to marginalize the mainstream, they will be hard-pressed to escape the minority in the future.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Liam Stewart

Liam Stewart is a Sophomore in the College of Arts and Letters, majoring in political science. Liam was born and raised in the beautiful Irish city of Dublin, although he has been proud to call Seattle home for the past six years. He enjoys country music, hardback books and binge-watching TV shows. He can be reached at lstewar4@nd.edu

Contact Liam
  • what no really

    What do you actually know about the current vetting process?

  • isabelrooper

    Hey Liam, you seem to frame your argument around the idea that national security and humanitarian aid are mutually exclusive. No one, Democrat or Republican, is anti-national security. However, you negate the *fact* that we haven’t had a single refugee-coordinated attack on US soil. Why? Because our vetting process–under both Bush and Obama–is already severe. The US does not have open borders. It takes months, and sometimes years, for a refugee to enter the US. And you’re right! We are morally (and legally!) obligated to help them out of their plight. Check out the Statue of Liberty if you doubt that obligation. Even 90 days can be a matter of life and death. Moreover, none of those seven banned countries are linked to anti-American terrorism, unless of course you count Kellyanne Conway’s Bowling Green Massacre. I’d ask you to consider whether attempting to blanketly shut out a specific religious group which our President repeatedly targeted during his campaign is the best way to address your national security concerns. The majority of 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia–ignored in Trump’s ban. Perhaps if Trump would cease distorting reality for the “mainstream” (what were those +3 million votes…?), his followers could judge the state of the country on their own.

  • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

    Judicial overreach? Have you ever read the constitution?

  • HolyHandGrenade

    Liam… did you do any research, or just cherry pick? Did you read the court’s words on the ruling?

    First off:

    They said: “[T]he Government has taken the position that the President’s decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections. The Government indeed asserts that it violates separation of powers for the judiciary to entertain a constitutional challenge to executive actions such as this one.

    There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

    “A good reason” such as national security is irrelevant when it tries to circumvent constitutionality and checks and balances. Fun fact – check out how many times Trump has mentioned checks and balances here: https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/5sl292/unlike_all_previous_us_presidents_trump_almost/ddfvlow/

    The upholding of the suspension is sound in itself. But beyond that, you seem to lack an awareness of where the terrorists come from. Since the 9th panel offers a ***direct rebuttal*** of your point, I’ll quote it here as well:

    “The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.

    Although the Government points to the fact that Congress and the Executive identified the seven countries named in the Executive Order as countries of concern in 2015 and 2016, the Government has not offered any evidence or even an explanation of how the national security concerns that justified those designations, which triggered visa requirements, can be extrapolated to justify an urgent need for the Executive Order to be immediately reinstated.”

    It is an infamous and oft-criticized issue that the U.S. turns a blind eye to where the terrorists such as those of 9/11 originate: Saudi Arabia. And Trump is no different in this economically, geo-politically motivated hypocrisy. If you truly believe in the need for national security, why did you write an article of fear-mongering against nations that have done us no harm, instead of criticizing Trump for not banning who he “ought” to ban?

    I’m not claiming to know everything about these issues, but I believe I’ve added more substance to the discussion than any of your tenuous opinions.